Oil Set For Weekly Gain With Production Slowing in the U.S.

Oil is poised for its first back-to-back weekly gain since February amid optimism around production cuts beginning to eat into a massive supply glut.

Futures in New York rose as much as 6% on Friday and are up about 20% this week. Explorers are cutting production in response to crude oil trading in the $20-a-barrel range. Noble Energy Inc. said Friday it would curtail between 5,000 and 10,000 barrels of oil a day of U.S. onshore production in May, and between 30,000 and 40,000 barrels a day in June.

As rigs shut and nationwide production lessens, signs of a demand recovery are also occurring, with drivers hitting roadways as coronavirus-led lockdowns ease.

“There are signs of life in of demand,” said Peter McNally, global lead for industrials, materials and energy, at Third Bridge. “There is a feeling that we are through the worst of the economic crisis and we are past this peak supply, demand imbalance. The supply outlook is heading in the right direction.”

This week’s data from the Energy Information Administration proved supportive. U.S. gasoline supplied, an indicator of consumption, rose by the most in almost two years last week and nationwide crude production declined for a fifth straight week to the lowest since July 2019.

Prices:
  • West Texas Intermediate for June delivery advanced 56 cents to $24.11 a barrel at 11:10 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
  • Brent for July settlement climbed 61 cents to $30.07 a barrel.

Still, prices need to trade at a certain level in order to see the glut shrink meaningfully. U.S. benchmark crude needs to be capped at about $25 a barrel to force producers to curtail output, according to Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas SA. That price level keeps supply from overwhelming capacity at Cushing.

More oil-market news
  • Saudi Arabia’s boost to prices of most of its oil is signaling an end to a destructive price war, but it’s left Asian buyers less than impressed.
  • The turmoil engulfing Singapore’s oil trading community deepened on Friday as the country’s police force raided the office of ZenRock Commodities Trading Pte Ltd. following allegations made by HSBC Holdings Plc that the company was involved with a number of “dishonest” transactions.
  • With thousands of oil wells choking back or completely shutting off production, companies are already looking to what may prove to be an even bigger challenge: turning them back on.

— With assistance by Elizabeth Low, Paul Burkhardt, and James Thornhill

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